The Latest from the Energy Vanguard Blog

Posted by Allison Bailes on November 9, 2016
Supply and demand are two different things. When you think of an energy code, say the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), you probably think of demand, not supply. Conserving energy, after all, means reducing demand. It's related to supply only indirectly. As a result, you might expect...
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Posted by Allison Bailes on September 29, 2016
Solar energy has sex appeal. If you want to show the world you're doing something to reduce pollution, you put photovoltaic (PV) panels on your roof to generate clean electricity. Even better, you drive a plug-in hybrid or an all-electric car and charge your car's batteries with your solar panels....
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Posted by Allison Bailes on July 14, 2016
Every day, I get updates on various energy data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Earlier this week I got one showing the graph below, indicating that energy intensity for the whole world is going down. That's a good thing, so I posted it to my social media networks. It means we'...
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Posted by Allison Bailes on December 29, 2015
The year 2015 is almost finished. I've written 69 articles here in the Energy Vanguard Blog. I've been to a bunch of conferences and talked to a lot of people. A lot of thoughts about building science, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and more have gone through my head. As I sit here at the...
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Posted by Allison Bailes on November 6, 2015
You may think there's no more boring topic than electric utilities. Power plants. Transmission lines. Engineers with flat top haircuts and pocket protectors full of pens in their white short-sleeved shirts. Well, let me say two words that might help make them more interesting to you: duck curve. If...
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Photo by Walter, from
Posted by Allison Bailes on September 25, 2015
A zero energy building is one that produces on-site at least as much energy as it uses. As I've written here before, the US Department of Energy has been mulling over the various ways to define and calculate zero energy use and recently they made their choice. They're going with a zero energy...
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passive solar net zero house photovoltaic modules richard levine kentucky
Posted by Allison Bailes on September 18, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about whether homes that produce as much energy as they use should be called net zero energy or zero net energy homes. Several readers offered up another choice: zero energy homes. I've also written in the past about four different ways to define net zero energy (the...
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Posted by Allison Bailes on July 29, 2015
If you've ever wanted to learn how to cook with the sun, the 2015 Solar Cooking Festival in Sacramento was the place to be. This is the second year of the event, hosted by Solar Cookers International. They had quite a variety of solar cookers on display, from simple, two-panel low-temperature solar...
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grandfather mountain insolation insulation solar energy
Posted by Allison Bailes on March 27, 2015
In 1993 I took a graduate course in solar energy from Professor Yogi Goswami. It was a great course, and one of the projects we had to do was to compile a whole binder full of solar radiation data for Gainesville, Florida. I used an ancient spreadsheet called Lotus 1-2-3 (remember that?) to do all...
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near net zero energy home utah 2
Posted by Allison Bailes on March 18, 2015
I'm writing this on St. Patrick's Day so let me tell you a wee bit about the O'Mearas. Kevin and Svetlana O'Meara live in a beautiful home in Utah that's oh-so-close to being a net zero energy home. After I wrote about how home building is like skiing two years ago, Kevin invited me out to see...
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